Football

Ahly vs Sundowns highlight CAF Champions League Saturday action

Al Ahly players train in Johannesburg
  • Sundowns beat Ahly for the first time in Cairo two weeks ago
  • Ahly’s South African coach is also a former Sundowns tactician
  • Coach Mosimane was handed a new two-year contract by the club

Al Ahly play away to Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday evening in what will be a blockbuster clash and the highlight of match day four of the group stages of the CAF Champions League. Sundowns beat Ahly for the first time in Cairo two weeks ago when they picked a 1-0 result.

The Red Devils of Egypt will be in Johannesburg to vie for revenge and put their campaign back on track.

Ahead of this tie, head coach Pitso Mosimane was handed a fresh two-year extension to his contract as Al Ahly head coach, and this will be a massive boost to his preparation.

Ahly have started their Champions League title defence in topsy-turvy form, losing one, drawing one and winning one of their opening three matches. They beat Al Merrikh 3-2 in their rescheduled fixture last weekend, but it had to come off a nervy ending after they lost a 2-0 lead.

But, Mosimane is not worried that his title defense is on the balance. With four points so far, Ahly can move top of the pile with victory against Sundowns.

Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane

But the runaway South African Premier League leaders are not ready to let their lead off their sights and will look to keep their unbeaten run in this season’s Champions League.

They warmed up for this fixture with a comfortable 6-0 victory over Mathaithai in the Nedbank Cup back home and come in with confidence to grab maximum points.

This will be the 10th meeting between the two sides and the fifth in South Africa. Sundowns have never lost to Ahly at home. The four other previous meetings have seen one win and three draws. Their last meeting in May 2021 ended in a 1-1 draw in what was Pitso’s first return to the club.

Elsewhere in other Group A fixtures, Al Hilal will host Merrikh at their home turf in Omdurman in the Sudanese derby that is also expected to spike fireworks. Hilal have only one point from their home draw against Ahly and to keep their quarter final hopes alive, have to beat Merrikh.

Over the last 36 meetings between these two sides, results have been evently poised with each winning 11 times while the remaining 14 matches ended in draws.

Their last meeting was in Cairo two weeks ago, where Merrikh are hosting their home matches, with the latter winning 2-1. Hilal are coming all out for revenge.

Ahly vs Mamelodi Sundowns

Raja Club Athletic players line up before a past match

Meanwhile, in Group B, Raja Club Athletic is the only side to retain a 100pc record so far in the group phases, three consecutive 1-0 victories keeping them top of the pile with a maximum nine points.

They will travel away to Horoya AC, a side they beat when they met in Casablanca two weeks ago. A victory for the Green Eagles will be a massive result and will certainly guarantee them a place in the quarter finals.

Horoya are winless in the group and have lost all their three matches, including their only tie at home against ES Setif. Another loss would complicate their chances of making the last eight.

In the other fixture, South African debutants AmaZulu will be looking to continue their good run. They have won back to back matches at home against Horoya and ES Setif to stand at six points.

In Group D, The Angolan derby pitting Petro de Luanda and G.D. Sagrada Esperança will be the highlight.

Petro wheeled off with the bragging rights when the two sides met two weeks ago, winning 2-1 to sail to the top of the group with seven points.

Esperança are rooted bottom of the table with just a point off their draw at home against Zamalek and victory against their arch nemesis will be hugely crucial to keep their hopes of making the quarters.

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